T.L. Cowan is an Assistant Professor of Media Studies (Digital Media Cultures) in the Department of Arts, Culture and Media (UTSC) and the Faculty of Information (iSchool) at the University of Toronto. Before moving to the University of Toronto, T.L. was a Presidential Visiting Professor in Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies at Yale University, and Chair of Experimental Pedagogies in the School of Media Studies at The New School. T.L.’s research focuses on cultural and intellectual economies and networks of minoritized digital media and performance practices. This work includes a first monograph on intermedial performance, poetry and digital culture, entitled Poetry’s Bastards and a second, on the translocal methods of trans- feminist and queer cabaret in Montreal, Mexico City and New York City, entitled Sliding Scale, both nearing completion. T.L. is also the Primary Investigator on a collaborative digital research-creation project called the Cabaret Commons: an online archive and anecdotal encyclopedia for trans-feminist and queer artists, audiences and researchers, and is writing a co-authored book entitled Checking In: Feminist Labor in Networked Publics & Privates with Jasmine Rault.
My research focuses on the transnational study of queer, feminist, transgender and decolonizing network cultural practices across digital media and earlier emergent communication technologies. In particular my work takes up cultural theories of collaboration, translocality and digitality through a study of grassroots cabaret and experimental media. I examine the ways that transgender, feminist and queer artists and activists continue to (re)invigorate their histories, politics, scenes and communities through the formation of online networks, ad hoc cultural and political collectives, one-off performance ensembles and protest performance based on the variety—or shared-stage—format. My research moves across late 19th– and early 20th-Century European cabaret cultures to the Carpa Theater tradition in Mexico, to cabaret as ‘social disorganization’ in the Harlem Renaissance, to post-war transsexual cabaret cultures in Montreal, to contemporary shared-stage cultures and the street demonstrations known as ‘mass cabaret.’ I theorize (and practice) cabaret as a collaborative technology, as a mode of inquiry and knowledge transfer, as a pedagogical tool and economic model that engenders and sustains counter-cultural media, aesthetics and politics, as well as a border-crossing world-making project like FemTechNet, which I argue is structured as a DIY techno-cabaret.
Central to this work is my transnational collaboration with university and community-based faculty, artists and organizers to design the Feminist Technology Network’s (FemTechNet) pedagogical projects and best practices for accessible face-to-face and online classroom learning and distributed pedagogies, especially in the design of the Distributed Open Collaborative Course (DOCC), a FemTechNet innovation. I am also currently co-director of the Center for Solutions to Online Violence (CSOV). My recent major collaborative projects with FemTechNet and CSOV include a multi-organization project to develop curricular materials on the topic of anti-feminist violence online, and a community-based Research Ethics Statement for internet researchers, geared toward students, faculty and journalists (http://femtechnet.org/csov/educator/).
My research practice moves between page, stage and screen; recent notable commissions for my creative-critical work include the PlugIn Institute of Contemporary Art in Winnipeg and Queens Museum in New York City.
Trans- Feminist & Queer Digital Media and Performance Practices; Activism Media & Performance; Digital Research Ethics; Digital Archives; Performance Studies; Transgender, Feminist, Queer & Decolonizing Cultural Production & Critical Theory; Collaborative Research & Experimental Pedagogies
“Living in the Necro-Zone: Linking Border Stories with Prison Stories in Yadira De La Riva’s
‘One Journey’ and Liza Jessie Peterson’s ‘The Peculiar Patriot’ on the Cabaret Stage.”
Liminalities: A Journal of Performance Studies. 12.4 (2016). http://liminalities.net/12-4/necro-zone.pdf
“Transfeminist kill/joys: Rage, Love, Reparative Performance.” Transgender Studies Quarterly. 1.4
(Fall 2014): 501-516.
“The Labour of Being Studied in a Free Love Economy” (with Jasmine Rault). Ephemera: theory and
politics in organization. 14.3 (2014): 471-488.
“Speculative Praxis Towards a Queer Feminist Digital Archive” (with Jasmine Rault & Dayna McLeod). Ada: a Journal of Gender, New Media & Technology. #5. July 2014.
“Trading Credit for Debt: Queer History-Making and Debt Culture” (with Jasmine Rault). WSQ:
Women’s Studies Quarterly. Special Issue on Debt. Eds. Meena Alexander and Rosalind Petchesky. 42.1-2 (Spring/Summer 2014): 294-310.
“Dayna McLeod’s Post-Nationalist Beaver and the Cabaret Phenomenology of Putting Out.” Feminist
Mediations. Eds. T.L. Cowan, Kate Eichhorn & Jasmine Rault. Topia: Canadian Journal
of Cultural Studies. 25 (Spring 2011): 230-239. Available at: http://www.academia.edu/4556022/Dayna_McLeods_Post-Nationalist_Beaver_and_the_Cabaret_Phenomenology_of_Putting_Out
“‘a one-shot deal’: Contemporary Cabaret as Improvised Curation.” Canadian Theatre Review (CTR).
143 (Summer 2010): 47-54.
“Feminist Cabaret and the Politics of Scene-Making.” Caught in the Act II: An Anthology of
Performance Art by Canadian Women Vol 2. Eds. Johanna Householder and Tanya Mars.
Toronto: Yyz Books. 2016.
“A Hybrid Present Embodified: Dialectical Mimesis on the Translocal Cabaret Stage – César
Enríquez’s Disertaciones de la Chingada and Alexandra Tigchelaar’s Les Demimondes.” Queer Dramaturges: International Perspectives on Where Performance Leads Queer. Eds. Alyson Campbell & Stephen Farrier. London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2015. 157-177.
“Feminist Alternatives to Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs): The Inception of Distributed Open Collaborative Course (DOCC)” (with Erika M. Behrmann, Penelope Boyer, CL Cole, Radhika Gajjala, Elizabeth Losh, Jasmine Rault & Laura Wexler). MOOCs and Open Education Around the World. Eds. Curtis Jay Bonk, Mimi Lee, Tom Reeves & Tom Reynolds. New York: Routledge, 2015. 190-202.
“‘I remember . . . I was wearing leather pants’: Archiving the Repertoire of Feminist and Queer
Cabaret in Canada.” Basements and Attics, Closets and Cyberspace: Explorations in Canadian Women’s Archives.” Eds. Linda Morra & Jessica Schagerl. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier UP, 2012. 65-86.
Web Publications & Short Publications
“The Many Languages of Cabaret Montréalaise: Cabaret et la performance de la scène bilingual/ Cabaret and
the Performance of a Bilingual Stage.” Canadian Review of Literature in Performance.
“Keyword: Open.” FemTechNet Roadshow Blog Series. May 22, 2015.
“We Are FemTechNet.” FemTechNet Manifesto. 2014. (Multiple authors.) https://www.academia.edu/8184803/We_Are_FemTechNet
“The Long Moment of a Spectral Outlaw: M. Lamar’s Surveillance: Punishment and the Black Psyche and “Badass Nigga The Charlie Looker of Psalm Remix.” Catalog Essay for NEGROGOTHIC, a Manifesto: The Aesthetics of M. Lamar. Participant INC. New York City. September 7 – Oct. 12, 2014. Forthcoming. Pre-publication version available here: https://www.academia.edu/8507043/The_Long_Moment_of_a_Spectral_Outlaw_M._Lamars_Surveillance_Punishment_and_the_Black_Psyche_and_Badass_Nigga_The_Charlie_Looker_of_Psalm_Remix_
“Transfeminist Kill/joys on the Land.” Helix Critical Project. 16 August 2014. http://helixqpn.tumblr.com/post/93881622387/transfeminist-kill-joys-on-the-land
“Feminist Pedagogy Initiatives of the Distributed Open Collaborative Course (DOCC).” FemTechNet
blog. Nov. 9, 2013. http://femtechnet.newschool.edu/blog/feminist-pedagogy-initiatives/
“Seeing & Being Seen at Meow Mix Cabaret.” Catalogue essay. Meow Mix Retrospective. Jan 10-Feb 2,
- RATS 9 Gallery. Montreal, Quebec.
“Follow-up notes on the GLITTERfesto: TL Cowan in conversation with Tammy Pamalovovich, Aging Supermodel Lesbian Feminist Experimental Poet and Revolutionary.” Belladonna.
“Transfeminism and Literature Vol. II.” 147 (2012): 5-12.
“GLITTERfesto: An Open Call in Trinity Formation For A Revolutionary Movement Of Activist
Performance Based On The Premise That Social Justice is Fabulous.” Canadian Theatre Review (CTR). Ed. Natalie Alvarez. 150 (Spring 2012): 11-17. http://www.academia.edu/4555824/GLITTERfesto_An_Open_Call_in_Trinity_Formation_for_a_Revolutionary_Movement_of_Activist_Performance_Based_on_the_Premise_That_Social_Justice_is_Fabulous
“cabaret at grunt: up your community.” Activating the Archives. Grunt Gallery, Vancouver. Spring 2012. http://performance.gruntarchives.org/essay-cabaret-at-grunt.html
“Making it Better: Dayna McLeod’s Celluloid Fantasies, Feminist Queer Revisionary.” No More
Potlucks. (Summer 2011). http://nomorepotlucks.org/editorial/motive-no-16
“The Queer Element, The Poison Cookie: Literature in Performance on the Cabaret Stage. Canadian
Review of Literature in Performance. 1 (2010). http://www.litlive.ca/story/230
2017 – Digital Media, Social Justice & Cultural Production (Arts, Culture & Media UTSC)
In the News
Queer Internet Studies, University of Pennsylvania https://www.english.upenn.edu/events/2017/02/17/queer-internet-studies-workshop
Global | Local: Experiments in the Arts & Humanities. Bard College. http://eh.bard.edu/conference2017/invited-speakers/
Nebraska Digital Humanities Forum, http://cdrh.unl.edu/neforum
Interview on Yale University’s The MacMillan Report on my research about Feminist & Queer Cabaret http://macmillanreport.yale.edu/videos/feminist-and-queer-cabaret